Laser Cutting Beginner’s Guide: What it is and how it works

For those who understand the technology, you will agree that there hasn’t been better accuracy in cutting than what we see with lasers today. A laser cutter is a machine that employs the use of thermal energy to cut, engrave, and imprint markings on a range of desired objects.

With its perfect cutting accuracy, it has undoubtedly made life a lot easier as seen in its application in various industries including engineering and for companies that  engrave designs on objects, cut materials like metals.

Whichever of the above categories you belong to, it is important to gain an in-depth knowledge of what laser cutting entails, how to use it, and the right materials to use it on. And that is exactly what we compiled in this laser cutting beginner’s guide.

Laser Cutting Beginner’s Guide: How Does It Work?

It is normal to feel overwhelmed at the beginning but the process is not as difficult as it sounds. It is highly computer-based. So the learning curve is pretty easy once you get a hang of it. Simply put, the process revolves around taking in information and bringing out the exact replica. The computer receives instructions by programming and reproduces whatever instruction was programmed in it.

Come along, let’s break the steps into easy-to-digest chunks.

Step 1: Programming

The first step in laser cutting involves programming the desired design on a computer. It is a computer numerical controlled machine. Hence, the exact picture of what you want to see at the end of the process is painted and inputted into a computer program.

This makes it possible to edit and adjust the final result before commencing the process. Since the input determines the result, you need to be very sure of the programming.

Step 2: Laser focus

This is an important step in any laser cutting beginner’s guide. This step is vital because it influences the accuracy of the cut. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the placement.

The material of choice is then put into the laser cutter and energy is applied to keep the laser focused. Once in, the computer moves the laser over the material to initiate the cutting process.


Step 3: Result

When the light is highly focused, it becomes extremely hot and the laser beam hits the material, leaving it vaporized and the programmed shape and size is achieved with fine and neat edges cut. Yes, you are done!

What materials can you cut with lasers?

Several materials can be cut with this computer numerical controlled machine. However, it depends on the type of laser used. Keep reading to learn about the various types of lasers. But for now, let’s keep our focus on some of these materials that lasers can cut in general.


One of the essential perks of laser cutting is its ability to cut through various kinds of metals. Be it hard or light metal, laser cutting makes it easy to cut through metals like plastics. This is incredible because very few machines can function as highly and accurately as laser cutting.


Paper is a popular choice for many reasons. Thankfully, laser cutting works just fine with paper too. With laser cutting, you can create various designs on paper, irrespective of the size or shape.


Apart from metals, glass is another difficult material to cut through because of its high reflective nature. However, laser cutting makes it not only possible but super easy. You can achieve any design with glass through laser cutting. It is super fast and highly effective.

Plastics and POM

Plastics are not left out in our laser cutting beginner’s guide. Laser cutting comes in handy when designing with plastics. Be it your local superheroes or whatever you deem fit to create with plastics, you can totally achieve it through laser cutting.


If you are working with wood design, you should definitely check out the best laser cutting method to achieve your goal. Not only is it possible, but we also assure you the results are incredible.

Common Types of Laser Cutting

The type of material used all boils down to the type of laser. You want to pick the right laser for your project because it determines whether or not the material can be cut or etched successfully. In this section, we quickly run through the common types of laser cutting.

  • Fibre lasers: These lasers are highly efficient and can cut through various kinds of metals. From steel to aluminium and copper.
  • Neodymium lasers: With a wavelength of 1.064micrometers, neodymium lasers are more powerful than gas lasers, hence, they can cut through thicker materials like metals.
  • Gas lasers: These lasers are known for engraving. They are popularly known as CO2 lasers because CO2 is the major gas used. Nonetheless, nitrogen gas, helium gas, and hydrogen gas can also be used with this laser type. Gas lasers come in handy when cutting through non-metallic materials like paper, glass, and plastics.

Laser cutting has been a helpful tool in artistic work and in various companies and organizations. It has reduced the waste encountered in the process of cutting and engraving with their accuracy. It also made work faster and easier, hence leading to increased productivity. Whether you are a company into design or an individual looking to create incredible designs, we hope this laser cutting beginner’s guide helps you to leverage the technology in your next project.

Want more tips?

Check out our previous article on 5 Popular Types of Metal Fabrication. Please don’t forget to like and share so we can always bring you helpful tips like these. Thank you! 

© DDK Engineering

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